Currently holding one of the worst records in the basketball, sporting one of it’s oldest rosters, and lacking promising young talent for the future, the Dallas Mavericks are on pace to be in line for a lottery pick this June. Desperately needing an infusion of young talent and renewed hope, this summer should prove to be one of the most important for the franchise in quite some time.
It would be nice if the renewed hope comes with a golden opportunity ... and a chance to advance a philosophy.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the draft prospect on our list who we believe tops the Mavs draft board: University of Washington point guard, Markelle Fultz.
As far as point guard prospects go, Fultz has been regarded as the best to come out of college at the position since Kyrie Irving in 2011. There is so much to like about this kid that it is difficult to figure out where to begin, but what jumps out to scouts immediately are his size, speed, and athleticism for his position.
Oh, and did we mention size?
At 6-5 and 186 pounds, and still growing, Fultz already has an NBA body at the age of 18, and still has plenty of room to fill out and get stronger. He has a 6-9 wing span, wears a size-15 shoe, and flies down the court at breakneck speed.
Fultz is an absolute terror on the offensive end of the floor for the Huskies, averaging 22.7 points and 6.6 assists per game. He is also shooting 53 percent from the field and 48 percent from three. Some might argue that he doesn’t have the same passing ability or floor vision of a Lonzo Ball (another top prospect we profile here), but Fultz can find the open man and make the right passes at the right times. While he needs to work on his free-throw shooting, Fultz has the ability to do just about anything you can ask him to do on the offensive end of the floor.
Fultz can also fill up the stat sheet in other areas as well. He rebounds at an extremely high level for a guy his size, averaging 6.7 rebounds per contest.
While Markelle has not played up to his potential on the defensive end of the floor during his freshman campaign (most likely due to the fact that he has to exert so much energy on the offensive end for an otherwise pedestrian roster), he has all of the physical tools required to be an above average on-ball defender at the next level. He has great instincts on that end of the floor however, as evidence by the fact that he currently averages 2.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game… as a point guard. Fultz on defense looks like he has more want-to than Ball, an observation we might want to keep checking on for years and years of their NBA careers.
At this stage in the process, Fultz is the most coveted prospect the entire 2017 draft, and with the talent level of this class, that is definitely saying something. He has been compared to a young Dwyane Wade, the type of player which Mavs fans should be plenty familiar with. At this point in his development, he is a better shooter than Wade was coming into the draft, but still has room to improve in that aspect of his game.
With the Mavs looking for the player with the most talent, as well as the highest upside, Fultz looks like that guy. Moreover, he would come in and instantly solidify a position of great need, and could also play some 2-guard as well. The Mavs might need to be the team that holds the most ping-pong balls this May to pull this off, because being lucky enough to lock down that No. 1 pick is the path to Fultz.
Such an acquisition will also mark a leap forward in Mavs point guard thinking. A few years ago, the organization thought the rules changes would mean the unclogging of basketball, leading to the increased valuing of the waterbug guard. It was the logic used in part to select Shane Larkin.
Of course, sub-6-foot point guards are more easily had once a team gets to the middle of the first round. The 6-5 point guard -- with waterbug quickness and handles but big-body advantages, too -- is the sort of freak that requires high-lotto position.
Dallas might've argued a few years ago that for a perimeter player, bigger isn't necessarily better. The Mavs haven't developed their Big Board yet, of course. We think they will eventually do so along with a self-examination of their draft values. And ... If the draft paths of Markelle Fultz and the Mavs happen to cross, we believe Fultz will be in a Dallas uniform ... and we promise you the Mavericks will never argue about overvaluing a waterbug ever again.